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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  December 19, 2010 3:00am-4:00am EST

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>> larry: tonight, are you or a loved one in the fight of your life against cancer? >> it takes courage to be a cancer survivor.
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>> larry: professional breakthroughs and personal triumphs fuelling a wave of positive developments. >> you can be honest, but you can also be hopeful. >> larry: some of the world's experts on the disease are here telling us how far they have come, how far they have to go. >> when you're clawing and scratching for every single penny in the national fight. >> larry: it's an hour that could save your life. it's next on "larry king live." good evening, we have done many shows about cancer during our 25 years on tv, it's such an important subject, we want to do more. we welcome dr. dean ornish. he's author of "the spectrum." and he co-founded the milken family foundation in 1982 to advance progress in medical
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research and education. in 2004, forbes magazine called him the man who changed medicine for his role in increasing funding and attention for cancer treatment. assistant professor of medicine, columbia university. staff cancer physician at columbia university medical center and author of a brilliant new book, "the emperorer of maladies" just named one of the ten best books of 2010. dr. derek rackavan.
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he is chairman of the cancer center at the cleveland clinic. and joining us in a moment from atlanta, dr. sanjay gupta, cnn's chief medical correspondent and associate chief of neurosurgery, grady memorial hospital. we're dedicating this hour to one of our senior producers who has booked the guests for a number of these shows. his name is hunter waters, he is battling the disease with dignity and courage. hunter, this one's for you. let's take a look back at some of the important discussions we have had about cancer over the years, watch. this may shock you, but 1,500 americans die every day of cancer, that's the equivalent of four jumbo jets crashing every day of the year, every day including sundays. the broadcast news anchors joined forces to fight a killer. it may be hard to watch what inoperable cancer has done for her. it's tough for us to see tammy faye baker seeing so weak.
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>> what is the best way to deal with cancer? >> with acceptance that you have it and do whatever you can to help get rid of it. >> you never want to hear those words, it's not really something that i ever thought i would hear. but, yeah, i mean i was shocked, but it's somewhere in me, i just had this idea. >> i cared, i cared about my life, i cared about what drugs i was going to take, i cared about the interaction with the doctors and nurses, okay i have cancer, i don't know anything about it. >> i have kept my tattoos, i don't know if you can see that little black, because it is a reminder for me, it's a reminder of that time and it's a reminder of how i want to look at my life. >> i have never told anyone, in the last year, i have been battling and surviving breast cancer. >> i'm a prostate cancer winner. >> i would like to be killing the cancer a little bit at a time and be on this constant downward slide, or maybe that's
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upward. but it's not like that, it's up and down. >> for us, every day, every week was a supreme victory, it wasn't like oh, my gosh, could we make it to six months, it was, yeah, we made it. >> lo and behold, i had prostate cancer. never felt bad, felt wonderful, we had just won the second world series and i was tickled pink and all of a sudden you get hit in the face. >> do you think we're ever going to defeat breast cancer? >> i hope so, definitely, with a lot of the research going on, some big strides are being made and days like today are really inspiring for the researchers and the survivors and people who are dealing with it every day. >> larry: we now assemble the panel and talk about cancer. why the emperorer of all maladies? >> it's actually a handwritten note by a surgeon, he says cancer is the emperorer of all
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maladies, the kick of all terrorists. i really like the image of the emperor because this disease has really enveloped our lives. >> larry: how far have we come, michael? >> we have come a long way. i'm very optimistic here, 2010 is probably the greatest year for cancer research ever. we're seeing a decrease in the death rate and i have great optimism that the next ten years will substantially reduce the death rate from cancer and not only will tens of millions of people that have had cancer be living, but we're eventually going to move cancer to a chronic disease, not a life threatening disease. >> larry: is it your opinion that cancer is preventable? >> it often is preventable. we have shown in the studies is that the simple choices we make, how we eat, how much stress we have, whether or not we smoke and how much support we have--we finds that when you change your lifestyle, in fact turning on the genes that prevents cancer and turning off the genes that cause breast cancer and other
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illnesses. >> larry: why has the cure eluded us for so long? >> i have to say, larry, that we have cured many different types of cancer in my 30-year career. i think good examples include cure rates that we can now report in the leukemias, some types of breast cancer, testicular cancer is the poster child of success. the reason some tumors still are resistant is that cancer is still a complex disease. it changes their stem cells that change the behavior patterns of the little seedlings that begin cancer. so it's a complex target. >> larry: where in this picture,
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dr. gupta is brain cancer? >> well, i think brain cancer is probably at the other end of the spectrum that was just being discussed in terms of making an impact overall. as a neurosurgeon, i think over the last few decades we have not made the sort of progress, with one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer, something known as leoblast tome ma. this is one of those tumors that when you get the diagnosis, often times it comes accompanied with the average survival is around 14 months. so with some types of brain cancers, we have done better. with this type of cancer, for the reasons that were just mentioned, that it's so complicated, it's not just one cancer, there are so many
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different types of cancer literally within a tumor and they're all smart, they're all wiley, they all evade treatment. that's what makes it so difficult to treat. >> larry: we'll be back with more, don't go away. k vegetables only when they're perfect. then freeze them fast so they're are as nutritious as fresh. [ green giant ] ho ho ho. ♪ green giant
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i did everything, i did what i call east meets west. and so i did western therapies and i did all the western traditions, i did yoga, medication i kind of combined the two things. because i found as wonderful as my western medicine doctors, they didn't have any information and didn't really believe it had anything to do with nutrition. i kind of divided it in half and went my own way with the other treatments. >> larry: rolled all the dice? >> yeah. >> larry: i want to read a little from your brilliant book which the "new york times" labelled one of the ten best books of the year, here's what he said.
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in most ancient societies, people didn't live long enough to get cancer. if cancer existed, it remains submerged under the sea of other ill illnesses. cancer in the world is the project of a double negative. it becomes a killer only when other killers have been killed. cancer they imagined was caused by the rushing world of modern life which somehow incited pathological growth in the body. the link was correct t casualty was not. civilization didn't cause cancer, but by extending human life spans, civilization unveiled it. by, doctor, did we hide it for so long? why didn't we say the word? >> well, part of the answer is that cancer is an age related disease. not all cancers, but many cancers are age related. breast cancer, importantly, prostate cancer.
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as the population ages, the general incidents of cancer will increase. for a long time the word cancer was not uttered in the public realm. it was the big c, it was hidden. a woman called up the "new york times" and wanted to place an advertisement for breast cancer. they said what about if you put an ad about the disease of the chest wall. >> larry: richard nixon declared war on it. what ever happened to the war? >> we have had a war, larry, and i think cancer -- >> larry: but it was late, wasn't. >> it we have made tremendous progress. we should look at this very optimistically, more than 12 million people in america and tens of thousands around the world are living normal lives, i couldn't be happier to be with you here larry 17 years after i was diagnosed and they gave me 12 months to live.
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as we see people living more and more successful lives, cancer no longer is a word that's not spoken from that standpoint. we sometimes forget that the greatest achievement of the 20th century was a doubling, a doubling of life expekt 20% of the population didn't make it to 5. today you go to 62 before 20% of the population passes away. and so, yes, we're living longer, cancer is more common, one in two men, one in three women. but as we focussed our attention and modern technology on cancer, the death rate from prostate cancer from projected levels has now dropped almost 50%. >> larry: how much of this is due to pharmaceuticals. >> if you look at the death rate, it hasn't changed a lot. i think that mike is a perfect example of how diet and
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lifestyle can make such a big difference. 17 years ago when we talked about these things, he has been making -- >> larry: no medications help then? >> i think medications, it's not one or the other, it's a combination of the two. but we did a study and we worked with men who had biopsy proven prostate cancer who had chosen not to have conventional treatment. and we found in a randomized controlled trial, that simple lifestyle changes could stop or reverse the growth of prostate cancer in many of these men. many of the same underlying mechanisms are the same in both cancer and heart conditions. >> larry: put it in simple terms, is cancer a civil war in the body in which cells go to war with other cells? >> you know, i guess that's one
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way of expressing it. i think of it a little bit differently. it's certainly a battle where the body is trying to defend itself. if you think of the great australian immune noll gist was one of the people who said if you suppress the immunity of the body by doing a transplant, cancer cells can get totally out of control. i kind of think of cancer more as an invader inside the body. many people know we have come to understand that there are different genes that control the way cancer cells grow and some of those genes mutate so that the cells become almost unrecognizable. so essentially you've got what you might call the good guys, the cavalry, which is the body's defense system fighting the invaders. and as dean ornish said there
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are some that say you can reconcile that balance. there is data coms out now saying that some forms of lifestyle modifications are helpful. many of the remedies that are out there with great popular interest actually don't work. i think one of the very important things that dean has done with pete carroll and the late bill fair was to actually test the high pott sis in a trial. >> larry: i was. i was watching your show one night when you had michael milken on.
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i was watching your show one night when you had michael milken on. >> larry: about prostate cancer? >> it was only one day before i ever received word. i called you, i received word and within a matter of hours i called you to see if i could get that information on the doctor with his diet and figure out a way to give up smoking. >> larry: dr. gupta, do we know why jim gets it and john doesn't? >> well, that's an interesting question. a lot of people sort of subscribe to the idea that, you know, you may be born with some sort of predisposition, if you will, some likelihood of getting cancer and then something in the environment or something that you have done to your own body in some way may sort of cause the cancer to actually happen. so it could be that, but there's still sort of bewildering questions. we talked a lot for example afternoon peter jennings when he
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developed lung cancer and he had been a smoker and then dana reeve developed cancer and had never been a smoker. >> larry: it is a puzzle. why does -- when it kills us, what kills us? why do we die? >> well, much like the disease itself is heterogene you. in most cases, cancer kills through metastasis that's when cells go to different parts of the body and take over different parts of the body. but that's not always the reason. in the case of leukemia which is a cancer of the white blood cells that grows in the bone marrow. lots of time they die from infections because they take over the bone marrow and they make it impossible for the bone marrow to actually work. >> larry: why are you so optimistic, michael? >> i think you just can see the people that are living normal
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lives today, larry. we have funded over 1,500 cancer research programs in more than 30 countries around the world. >> including ours. >> including dean's over the years. as you travel around the country, you hear one success story after another. we have an aging population that's dramatically older, one in two men and one in three women. so if the number of deaths is the same, as the population rate grow grows in ages, but the number of men dying has dropped from 43,000 let's say from prostate cancer in '93 to 28,000, 29,000 today. and probably was projected as an aging population at 60 or 70. just in the last year we have discovered that there's 24 forms of prostate cancer and maybe six of them are so aggressive that you want to treat more than just early surgery or radiation. it's just a function of science and determination. but dean has made another very important point. what we have found in these
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hundreds and hundreds of studies, is yes, for 20% to 30% of the population, it might be your genes and it might be heredity. but for 60%, 70%, and maybe as many as 80% of the cases, it's your lifestyle. you can actually change your genes today through your lifestyle, diet and how you conduct your life. so it's a partnership. it takes courage to be a cancer survivor. but to do something about your life, change your life. you got cancer partly because of the way you were living your life. and dean, 30 years ago when we first met has been the forerunner of the fact that you can change the outcome in your own life. >> larry: why is chemotherapy, dean, a terrible word.
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>> i don't think it's a terrible word. it can be a beautiful word. >> larry: but when you hear someone is taking chemotherapy, you go, oh. >> we're getting better at understanding how to target those therapies. and the future of chemotherapy is very personalized chemotherapy. it's not one size fits all. >> larry: you mean he can get one and i'll get this? >> and it's also changing the soil as i told you before, what you include in your diet is as important as what you exclude. there are hundreds of thousands of protective substances particularly in blueberries and strawberries and other things that help to fight against prostate cancer. as far as your genes go, we found not only if you change your lifestyle, it changes your genes. we did that in collaboration with dr. elizabeth blackburn who got the nobel prize last year.
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when people say it's in my genes, there's nothing i can do, there's a lot you can do. you can starve what we eat affects the blood vessels that feed a tumor and so we can starve the tumor in ways that don't have the kind of toxicities of chemotherapy. >> larry: had you not had the horror of having prostate cancer, would this have been a subject that interested you?
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>> larry: had you not had the horror of having prostate cancer, would this have been a subject that interested you? >> i think so. you know, when you consider that one out of every two men and one out of every three women is going to get this disease and 20% of our entire nation's population is affected by this disease. saddam hussein got our attention when he went into kuwait and killed a few thousand people. we're talking about something that's going to kill millions and millions of americans. >> larry: we're back with our outstanding panel on this very, very important topic. dr. rackavan, have we got it down? do we at least now fully understand what we're dealing with? >> i think we understand a lot more about cancer, as mike milken said a minute ago, you know the last few years have been absolutely spectacular. the way i think about it, when i started in the 1970s, there was an awful lot of educated guess work using good clinical skill and a bit of guessing. now as we have discussed, we're starting to understand the genes that control cancer, some colleagues of mine and i recently finished a trial where using chemotherapy was completely predicated on a mutation in a gene called p-53 which is one of the genes that
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suppresses one of the types of cancer. i will make the comment, because i like several of the others am very up on the fact that we're making progress, that it's a slow, steady slope. but i think there's still a real problem, and that is we have an immense disparity in the united states and in north america generally where there are populations of patients that just don't get an even break. people who are elderly, the poor, people who are geographically isolated get a pretty raw deal. and when people say to me if i were the emperor in control of things and could do one thing that might reduce death from cancer, if i could magically create a situation where the death rate from cancer across america was the death rate for
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college educated white males, we would drop the national death rate by a huge proportion. >> larry: do you agree, dr. gupta? >> yeah, that's a fascinating way to look at it. we just did a story specifically looking at the elderly, you would be interested to know. and what was interesting is that so many times hospitals, health care professionals, i think with best interests in mind oftentimes some of these therapies that dr. rackavack that they actually wanted a treatment that wasn't offered to them. making sure what we know works is made available to those who need it is a very important step. >> larry: would you read another little passage from your book? >> absolutely. here's a passage in which i talk about the idea that cancer, when we began to solve the cancer
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genome, several groups have done this in several different kinds of cancer, it turned out there was an enormous level of diversity. so some would say this problem is just too complicated. but even within that diversity it turns out there are unifying principles. the bedlam of the cancer genome is deceptionive. there are organizational principles. the language of cancer is grammatical, methodical and even, i hesitate to write quite beautiful. gene to gene and path -- producing familiar and -- underneath what might seem like overwhelming diversity is in fact a deep genetic unity. cancer as one scientist recently put it really is a pathway disease. >> larry: michael, i know you're optimistic, but it's still a word, it's still the big c. it's still a word you don't want to hear.
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>> you don't want to hear it, larry, but 12 million people in america are living normal lives that have had cancer. computers -- >> larry: who have had cancer and who now don't have cancer? >> that's correct. computers are a million times faster than they were ten to 15 years ago. we have the computing capacity now to deal with numbers that we are dealing with with number of cells. 1 trillion calculations a second. so we can test every single thing today. what we only could have dreamed of doing when i started working on cancer research more than 30 years ago, we can do today in an hour or an afternoon. it is a totally different world today. and larry, you've been a big
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part of that world. on this very show in 1995, really the first cancer show, people were concerned, what about ratings, how are people going to feel about the big c? i know it was one of your more successful shows that year, but in 30 days, we collected enough data that used to take 12 years to collect when general schwarzkopf came on that show in '95. in '96 and '97, we announced the cancer march on this show. mobilizing people throughout the country. a doubling of the nih budget. a tripling of the nci budget and ten fold increases in research for specific cancers. it has changed the world. this show has led a path that has changed the world. >> i wanted to say that a lot of that is because of mike, and i salute him for that. >> larry: and we'll be right back. major i events are going to take place across this country. it is called the march.
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>> larry: were you scared the night before the surgery? >> i sure was, because i suddenly realized that, you know, cancer, you mention cancer to some people and lights go out. >> larry: we mentioned it on this show as the news came on this program. that's a scary word just to look at it. >> but you would be surprised
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the people i have heard from with different kinds of cancer and the key to all this is early detection. >> larry: i don't want to toot my own horn, but you credit this show for saving -- i know we saved a couple of lives when we did the show with senator dole and he revealed about the psa and i know people came up to us and said they had no idea about taking it, today took it, they found they had it. >> larry, i'm alive today because of that psa test, had i not taken that test, i would not be alive today. but there's 7 million people around the world who can see your show who are going to lose their life to cancer this year, you give them hope, you give them opportunity and potentially you'll give them access to care. the doubles of the nci budget and the tripling of that budget, the elimination of cancer as a cause of death in just america is the greatest stimulus we could have. it's worth $50 trillion to the u.s. economy.
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>> and i was going to say that part of the value of your show is to give voice to this. it used to be when you got diagnosed with cancer, it's bad enough that you feel isolated already, but not to be able to talk about it makes it doubly so. >> larry: isn't it said that if you can go to the cleveland clinic, you got a better deal than if you go to wakakmanka institute in some remote city? >> in many remote cities there's absolute superb cancer care available. one of the models that we have developed in cleveland and one that i hope to export now that i'm moving to the levine cancer center in charlotte is the concept of linking central facilities with outstanding science to smaller places. so in cleveland and in charlotte, we will be evolving a mechanism to collaborate between centers of excellence with laboratories and clinical trial centers and making those facilities available out in the homeland of usa. the leukemia and lymphoma society which i think mike milken knows is another superb patient advocacy group, currently sponsors studies that take early phase clinical trials which are designed to look at
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new drugs and test them for safety and efficiency in the blood cancers and exports them from for example the cleveland clinic to small centers throughout ohio. my feeling is that if government sponsored more work for collaboration between centers of excellence and smaller centers that were prepared to collaborate, we could make an awful lot of progress. there's some absolutely wonderful clinical trial doctors and clinical oncologists out in small places that would be only too pleased to participate. >> larry: we spend more on iraq and afghanistan than we do on cancer, don't we? >> far more and as i think michael milken is alluding to is that you're clawing for every extra penny that you're getting for the funding of research.
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the way the scientific establishment is now, you often have people working in silos, separate from each other all over the country. if somehow you could make this effort that michael milken is describing more unified in some way, working together with people who are working on the same things as opposed to working separately. you might make some of these audacious yet very achievable goals that michael is describing much more quicker. >> you know, millions of people use skype, you talk to your wife, you talk to your kids, you talk to your grandkids. the ability for one scientist to communicate with another, we look at sending, watching movies online today.
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for that same enormous ability to send data allows you to send medical records. so there is no place on the planet today that if you have a life threatening disease that you cannot interact with one of the leading experts using technology today. technology will solve the problem. as you pointed out, larry, it's not that we spend more money on wars than cancer. the united states spent more money last year buying potato chips than we invested in the national cancer institute. the last political election, we have spent more in one election than we do on cancer. and so if elimination of cancer as a cause of death is worth $50 trillion to the u.s. economy, imagine it's worth hundreds of trillions to the world. imagine if we doubled or tripled that budget. you couldn't get a higher rate of return. and we could compress that time. >> larry: we'll be right back with more, don't go away. erson. erson. questions about retirement?
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we're going beyond the racism and sexism and ageism. >> the peace possible? can we do it? why are we on trying? >> larry: you talk of love, you love the chinese? >> certainly. >> and there is the origin of life some 4 billion years ago. >> that anger can be a force if properly directed. >> they were given amnesty on very strict conditions. >> larry: elizabeth edwards recently died after a six-year battle with breast cancer. let's take a look at her last interview on this program. what do you say to other cancer
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patients? >> that as long as you're walking around, as long as you're not dead now, then you're alive. >> larry: look in the mirror. >> you're alive and don't spend your time worrying about when it is you're going to die? spend your time worrying about how you're going to live today. >> what encourages me is that the research is changing focus now. it used to be that we would just look at the organ that the cancer started in and focus on that. now we have a better understanding of the mechanisms that really underlie cancer, we can target our therapies more closely. >> larry: should the oncologist be very honest with the cancer patient? >> yes, the oncologist should be very honest with the cancer patient. the history as i point out in my book, there are several moments when doctors fool themselves.
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you know, major childhood breast cancer for instance, are episodes where doctors fool themselves and when doctors fool themselves then they fool their patients. and in the end it creates a rift between doctor and patient. so i always believe the oncologist should be honest. you can be honest, but you can also be hopeful, you can be -- you can look to the future. and honesty doesn't need equate to hopelessness. >> larry: and we'll be back with more right after this. i was so lucky that we found
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i was so lucky that we found it early because of the mammogram. i thought, you know what? i really owe this to the women out there that are putting it off to speak out and say get that mammogram every year because you never know when it's going to save your life. so that's why i went public with
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it and urge women to get that yearly check up. >> larry: did your own cancer cause you to have increased interest or were you fighting for this before? >> i began in '72 when my mother-in-law was diagnosed. by the time i was diagnosed in '93, i had lost seven relatives to cancer. and i knew nothing about prostate cancer, i knew everything about breast cancer, melanomas, brain cancers, et cetera. but one thing i did learn is that i was going to do something different. my prognosis was so negative at the time that my believe was that i had to embrace nutrition, i had to embrace what some people call eastern medicine. and i am a firm believer here that it's a partnership. it takes courage as i said
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before to be a cancer patient. you want to know all the facts. but we cannot underestimate the will of an individual to live and to improve themselves and to focus and take action to do things that give you the best chance for hope. when people tell you 50% of the people pass away or what these averages, those are only averages. and those averages also relate to the past. people that had treatment many years ago, which might not be the current treatment. so we need to look forward not back from that standpoint. doctors around the world are collaborating. scientists around the world. this is no longer just a u.s. challenge and whether you go to china or singapore or england or switzerland, wherever you go in the world, there are amazing breakthroughs coming. and i don't think anyone can leave this program. first without thanking you for your contributions. you were the very first person that was willing to address this person on the air. you were the very first person that gave people hope.
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that people, you can see people who have had cancer living normal lives. and i want to say to you, as this 25 years is coming to an end. that people should not take away from this show that we're not going to see a substantial reduction in death from cancer, and move to the period of time where cancer is a chronic disease. >> you flatter me. >> i want to bull on what mike is saying. love is a very powerful weapon against cancer. >> larry: really? >> in addition to whatever else you're doing, one study that the doctor at stanford, did he took women with metastatic breast cancer. they were all getting the same treatment. one group was assigned to get a support group where they let down their emotional defenses. they talked authentically what it really like to have cancer with people that understood. five years later they were found to live twice as long. the love, the connection, the ability to be able to express your feelings authentically with another is one of the most powerful thing you can do.
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>> you can go to ornish.com.
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>> larry: we played that aretha franklin song because it is reported that she has cancer. >> and aretha also was an inspirational force at the cancer march in 1998, larry. she entertained hundreds. thousands of people in the mall and it was an uplifting experience and it was quite interesting. whether it was bob dole from the republican party, and you had crosby, stills and nash there. very interesting collection of individuals. >> brings us all together. >> larry: are we going to see it end? are we going to defeat it? >> well, the ability to convert cancer into a chronic disease is a victory. as i point out in my book, you know, in 1970s we were obsessed with the idea of cure. and for some cancers, indeed, testicular cancer is the poster child of that. some leukemias.
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indeed, cancer is curable. but the ability to reduce or delay death from cancer is going to really transform the way we think about cancer in the future. and the ability to convert cancer into a chronic disease is for some cancers, will transform the way beth cancer. >> larry: do you agree? go ahead. >> and last but not least, even the ability to give palliative care. toably the word into the public and talk about how we can take care of people who have terminal cancer is a very, very important part of this process of learning about this disease. >> larry: do you agree? >> i do. i once had a patient who was dying of lung cancer, and we were having real trouble controlling his pain. and i asked him what was troubling him the most? and it turned out that he lived alone, he was in australia having emigrated. and his fear was that he would die and be buried alone. so my house officer and my chief nurse and i told him that we would actually send him off when he died. and his pain requirements dropped about 80%.
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the point i make is that you can have the best science in the world but you have to have good old-fashioned clinical doctoring to make the package complete. >> larry: and michael, you think we've turned the corner. >> i think we've more than turned the corner, larry. and testicular cancer, 95%, men used to dix one of our young investigators, einhorn from the university of indiana, changed the world there. and people are changing the world every day in this disease. we really did not focus on this or have the tools. but as dean ornish has so eloquently explained over such a long period of time, this is a partnership. let's first prevent it. we would all rather not get cancer with early detection. and we know around the world, incidents are 10% of what they are here. >> it has been an honor to have the ability to do shows like this.
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dr. dean ornish, michael milken, doctors. we know that so many of your families have been affected by cancer. so has ours. "larry king live" family will leave you tonight with the faces and names of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and others we know who fought the good fight. some are survivors. some are no longer with us. we honor them all. good night.
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